When you're in flight between colonies, there isn't really all that much to do. Once you've set your heading, the autopilot can pretty much handle the rest with the help of the nav beacons, unless something really unexpected happens.
It can get pretty boring. And lonely. And quiet.
That's what got to me the most. I was used to going on shuttle flights on my own - but I usually obnoxiously loud music blasting out of every speaker on the ship. At the very least I kept a quiet track of elevator music play, just to chase the silence away.
Travelling with Hilde was okay. We could usually strike a balance. And we talked.
Heero and I hadn't exchanged a word for hours. Nothing meaningful, anyway. Only small remarks, attempts at reminiscing... Well, I talked. He listened - with a tiny fraction of his attention, if even that. For the last fifteen minutes I'd been telling him about the tiny pink elephants tap-dancing on our windshield. He'd just grunted a little whenever my tone of voice seemed to justify it.
I gave up. He was deep in thought about something, that was for certain. I wasn't sure I really wanted to know about what, exactly.
Curiosity is a dangerous thing. Most would-be scientists learn this when they're young. Those who heal both mentally and physically from their early electric shocks, burns and other injuries, become great scientists.
The rest become pretty much sane people.
I sighed. Sanity is overrated, anyway. I touched his shoulder to make sure I had his attention. "So... what are you thinking about, Heero?"
He all but stared at me for a moment, hesitation clear in his eyes. Still, he dared ask. "Have you ever loved someone, Duo?"
I had the distinct feeling he didn't mean 'love' as in love for a friend, or for family. An itch at the back of my neck grew unbearable. Dealing with it, I quickly shrugged as a reply, and left my seat for the small kitchen nook. I felt his eyes on me as I dug out a few food dispensers from a cabinet and made a face at them. Shuttle fare is pure crap, whether on private or commercial shuttles. It's all the same in the weightlessness of space - unless you're filthy rich and have artificial gravity, but even then 'normal' foods requiring gravity for relatively clean and safe digestion aren't advisable.
I tossed a few of the packs at Heero. "Here, catch - it's dinner."
Heero frowned, but took them. I knew he was as thrilled with these meals as I was. Dinner shouldn't come through straws or in the form of bars - at least not in peace time.
He accepted dinner in the same way he did my answer - in silence.
At least I dodged that particular bullet - but knowing Heero, it'd ricochet back at me later.
I don't like lying. I would hate to tell him 'no' even more.